Long-time Groove Agent user desperate for answers


Greetings. I am a professional music producer and live performer who began using Groove Agent One when it was released many years ago. While I occasionally used it in the studio, 90% of the time it was used onstage. In conjunction with Ableton Live I have played for eighteen years as a keyboardist and one-man band creating music on the fly and also remixing tracks. Groove Agent was an essential part of that, as it gave me full control of a ‘drummer’ onstage.

My system was completely midi-controlled to allow instant changing of kits, style, complexity, fills and effects. With Groove Agent I could compose full pieces of music live onstage, and it worked more or less seamlessly for a decade.

Since Groove Agent One is now too old to operate on my modern system, I took the plunge with GA 5 last week, and I am writing to express both my deep disappointment but also in a desperate hope there is a way to move forward.

I’ve been making music on computers since the early 90’s, and first I must say that GA 5 is one of the most non-intuitive and overly-complex VSTs I’ve ever encountered. The sounds and patterns are fantastic and I have no complaints there. But GA 5 seems to be overwhelmingly geared towards studio production instead of live performance. I am regretful of my purchase, but perhaps I am missing a way forward which is why I’m writing.

Here’s where I’m at :

–Choosing the ‘Style’ button instead of ‘MIDI’ gives me pattern choices similar to GA1, but the only styles are acoustic/traditional drum patterns like Rock, Country, Jazz, etc. GA1 and GA2 (which I also used) had Style patterns for Electronic, Dance, TripHop, etc. Why are there no styles for modern beats, allowing for live drum control but with modern styles? There are MIDI patterns for modern styles, yes. But not a ‘Style Mode’ wherein I control Intensity, Complexity, etc. This in itself would have prevented my purchase. Hopefully I’m just missing something?

–Most importantly, GA1 and GA2 allowed for any kit to be performed with any style. I have spent days trying to find this method in 5, and there does not seem to be any such control. In fact, the “GM Program Change” option does not work at all. I have now tried with embedded program changes, two different midi controllers, and two different MAX 4 Live devices that send program changes. Groove Agent 5 simply does not respond to any program change that I can detect. The original Groove Agent had sliders that went between styles and kits, and these were midi-controllable.

In 2004 I was able to play a techno kit with a jazz drum style, a funk style with an 80’s kit, a drum ‘n’ bass kit with a disco style…all on stage…all midi controllable. I would like to understand why this now seems completely impossible with a program fifteen years more advanced. If there is a method to ‘dumb down’ GA5 so that it responds much more like earlier Groove Agents, I will absolutely be satisfied with my purchase and will be extremely grateful I can continue with my performances as they used to be. Otherwise I will need to discuss a refund. I am already not using 80% of GA5’s studio capabilities, and I expected that. What I did not expect is that the other 20% wouldn’t work either.

I have great respect for Steinberg and I look forward to a resolution and hopefully a technique to bring Groove Agent back to its original onstage power. Thank you.

Maybe the solution would be to create two different products - Groove Agent Live. and Groove Agent 5.

I haven’t used Groove Agent before version 5, but it seems to have moved more towards sound design and custom library management - and in this regard, it’s quite good IMO.

GA is just confusing as hell, yet powerful. I believe going through the manual will be necessary. I’m trying to understand why Acoustic Agent can’t have samples replaced - like the snare drum.

I’m sure there’s a good reason, but I want to understand it better.

On changing things with MIDI program changes…

Does this help?

I can’t seem to get this GM Program Change thing described in the link above to work either. I can assign a Program Change to a kit in the browser, rank it 5 stars, but sending a PC doesn’t do a thing. What am I missing?

With styles and patterns, changing them on the fly in real time, etc…I might be misunderstanding what you’re trying to do, but on mixing and matching styles, changing among them via MIDI, etc…no problem here as long as I do things on independent pads. I build the changes on a Pattern Pad. No problem mixing acoustic styles and self made MIDI stuff. Tapping a pad/key with MIDI follow active changes them as needed. If the transport is going, it keeps looping until I stop things, or tap another pad/key to change it. If the transport isn’t going, a pattern pad will loop as long as I ‘hold down’ the pad/key.

Some content is ‘locked down’. The content creator has an option of making kits, or portions of kits that users can’t change directly. The idea is that the kit was recorded/sampled together, and designed to work together. The same sticks were used, the same room, the same mics, the same musician, etc. So, you get a consistent kit across the board. So, instead of trying to ‘change’ the kit, think more along the lines of ‘adding’ instruments you might want that aren’t in the kit. I.E. Just add things not in the kit to another pad or kit slot.

Sometimes a kit developer doesn’t want you to be able to directly grab individual raw samples out of their library, but they do want an affordable and easy to use library. An optional layer of copy protection. If you want an individual sample out of such a library, you can always re-sample it to an audio track real quick, drag it back into Groove Agent, and work with it from there in your custom kits.

As for kits being locked so you can’t easily change a given kit-piece (pad) directly…This is more common in the “Agent Kits” that involve custom Macro pages. Why? It might break the macro, as well as custom LUA scripting, etc. So…the content creators can lock some things down in ways users can’t change it.

The fix is pretty simple though. If you want a different sound on the same pad just put it on a fresh kit in a different kit slot. Set the kit slots to the same channel, route them to the same output-bus, and mute the pad of the original piece in the locked kit that you no longer want.

Another option, if the kit in question allows you to drag new sounds on unused pads, but not to change a given pad in the initial kit set-up, then you could build your new sound to one of those unlocked and unused pads in the kit, mute the original that you intend to replace (or remap it to respond to a different note event), and change the mapping of your new sound/pad to the note(s) that you’d like triggering it. Note, some ‘agent’ kits lock pretty much everything, and the work-flow design is really intended to be manipulated by end users through special macro screens, but some might let you add custom stuff to the unused pads… Content creator’s choice I believe.

Groove Agent has a pretty steep learning curve. The vids on YouTube are ok, but none of them were really what I wanted. So I ended up using Groove 3 and the video lessons there were a lot more helpful in explaining GA5.


FYI–Groove 3 sells learning materials.

can i use groove agent 3 in cubase 10 pro anybody. Is GA3 a 32 bit plugin. Thanks.

groove agent 3 works with jbridge on my system. have Cubase 10 operating in windows 10.